|Date of Birth||April 19, 1885|
|Place of Birth||Venosta, Quebec|
|Next of Kin||John McCaffrey of Venosta, Quebec|
|Trade / Calling||Section Foreman on CPR|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Place of Enlistment||Kenora, Ontario|
|Date of Enlistment||February 18, 1915|
|Age at Enlistment||26|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||May 23, 1942|
|Age at Death||54|
|Buried At||Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario|
James McCaffrey was the 7th child of at least 8 children born to John McCaffrey and Elizabeth Kelly. He was born in Venosta, Quebec. Although his attestation papers stated his birth year as 1888 his baptism record and his tombstone both state 1885. His siblings were Michael, Margaret , Mary, William, Phoebe, John and a younger sister Isabella. John, his father, was born in Ireland and his mother and siblings were all born in rural Quebec.
James found work in the lumber industry for several years. When he moved west about 1908 to Kenora, Ontario, he began work with the Canadian Pacific Railroad. The next year he was made a section foreman.
Enlisting in Kenora, Ontario on February 18, 1915 James was placed with the 52nd Battalion for service in WW1. In June of 1915 he travelled to Port Arthur to go into camp with other units of the 52nd for training. By the 4th of September James was embarking from Montreal on the S.S. Missanabie. Further training awaited him at Shorncliffe in England. In February of 1916 James was transferred to the Canadian Engineers Transport Depot and it was with the 7th Field Company of this unit that he went to France in April of 1916. On 25 August 1916 he was attached to the 1st Durham Field Company Royal Engineers. A month later James received a gunshot wound to his right elbow and was returned to England for treatment and convalescence. Upon his discharge from hospital on 04 December 1916 James served with the Canadian Engineers Transport Division in England and by November 1917 he was an acting Lance Corporal with pay. However, on 29 March 1918 James reverted to his previous rank of Sapper at his own request for the purpose of proceeding once again to France. Once there he was taken on strength by the 2nd Tramway Company and served with them for nine months before being transferred to England on 28 January 1919 for demobilization. James returned to Canada on the 22 March 1919 aboard the S.S. Cretic. He received is official discharge on 26 March 1919 in Ottawa and at that time indicated that his intended place of residence was Ottawa.
James returned to work for the C.P.R. and married Mary Ann Sloane on September 29, 1920 in Quebec. They made their home in Keewatin living close to the railway station. James, as a section foreman, was well known throughout the district. They had 3 sons, Basil (who enlisted for WW2 with the Lake Superior regiment in Winnipeg), James and Gerald. Also 4 daughters were born; Lenore, Rita, Dorothy and Winnie. They were members of St. Louis Roman Catholic Church in Keewatin. When James’ wife Mary Anne died in 1938, leaving him with young children to be cared for, fellow parishioners stepped forward to help the unfortunate family.
James passed away after a brief illness on the 23 May 1942 at the St. Joseph’s Hospital in Kenora, Ontario. His Veteran Death Card listed his daughter, Reeda (Rita) McCaffrey of Dryden, Ontario as his next of kin. He is buried in the Roman Catholic section of Lake of the Woods Cemetery, in Kenora.
By Linda Pelletier
Veteran death card courtesy of Library and Archives Canada.
Photograph of James as found on the public Dennis Family Tree on ancestry.ca.